[mythtv-users] HD tuner: best bang for the buck

Rod Smith mythtv at rodsbooks.com
Sat Nov 3 14:34:04 UTC 2007

On Friday 02 November 2007 18:33:05 Cool Frood wrote:
> Hi,
> Sorry if this is somewhat of a repeat of things that have been talked
> about before.  I'm in the market for a cheap HD tuner (in the US) that
> works well with MythTV.  The key things are "cheap" and "works well."
> Reading previous discussions, it seems that people really like
> HDHomeRun or PCHDTV.  However, both of them seem to be comparatively
> pricier than the other options available.

I originally had a pair of pcHDTV 3000 cards, but their QAM reception was so 
poor as to make them useless for receiving digital cable signals, at least in 
my computers. I therefore bought a secondhand AVerMedia AVerTV A180 card, 
which works much better for QAM (digital cable) reception. I seem to recall 
it went for under $50 on eBay, but it was used, not new; I'm not sure what 
the new price is.

Note that there are probably three types of signals that are important for HD 
tuners in the US: ATSC (over-the-air digital), QAM (digital cable), and NTSC 
(standard analog). Many tuners support just two of these, or sometimes just 
one (ATSC). If getting digital cable is important to you, be sure yours 
supports QAM; and if you want analog reception, be sure yours supports NTSC. 
AFAIK, all HD tuners that record NTSC do so as frame grabbers, not as 
hardware MPEG-2 encoders. Therefore, IMHO it's better to get separate digital 
tuners and NTSC MPEG-2 tuners, if you've got the available slots. The AVerTV 
A180 card I've got is effectively an ATSC/QAM card; under Linux it's useless 
for NTSC encoding. IIRC, the same is true of the HDHomeRun. I believe the 
Air2PC card that somebody else mentioned doesn't support QAM, so it's useless 
if you want to record digital cable channels.

Rod Smith

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